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Monthly Archives: December 2016

The story of the Arab-Israeli conflict, at least as I perceive it is as follows.

In biblical time, there were the Israelites. They believed they’re god’s chosen people and that god gave them the land of then-known as Canaan, later to known as Israel, although modern-day Israel is much smaller than the original kingdom. We’ll get to that. They weren’t very tolerant regarding other religions and massacred everyone there.
But then, at 900BC~ the Israel kingdom was divided (in a civil war due to tax increase) into two much smaller kingdoms – Israel (consisting of 10 tribes) and Judea (with only 2 tribes). The kingdom of Israel was annihilated by the Assyrians. The kingdom of of Judea was also conquered, but their elite was sent to exile, vowing to return and restore the kingdom of the house of King David. Later, these group (Judeans) became Jews. It’s worth mentioning that some Jews remained in Judea but they were under an occupation – First of the Assyrians and later by a few others. The land of Judea eventually became obsolete after a failed revolt against the Roman empire and the province Iudaea became “Syria Palaestina” at 130AD. The jewish temple was also destroyed. Much later this land was conquered the Turkish empire and by 1916 Britain claimed a mandate on it. But as the 1800s was the spring of the nation-states, the scattered jews now saw themselves as a nation and claimed they are entitled for a state as well. For the support of jewish settlement in Palestine region, during WW1, the British empire promised Jews to have the “national-home” in Palestine. This, and WW2 caused a surge of Jewish immigrants to Palestine, creating many conflicts between them, the arabs and the ruling Brits. Eventually the UN has voted that two states will be founded in the region: Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine.
Now, it’s important to point out that there was no Palestinian identity. The arabs actually wished to have a “caliphate” (a theological empire). But the European colonialist trifled that idea but place few Arab princes in power and eventually leaving separated.
So when the Israeli state was founded at 1948, all neighboring counties went to war against it and tried to eliminate the new imposed threat, but they lost and Israel gained more land then originally offered. There was still no Palestine, though – Gaza belonged to Egypt and the West Bank belonged to Jordan. This is not to say, the territory wasn’t filled with arabs (who only later identified themselves as Palestinians). The war, however created a new reality for many of them who fled from the war and now couldn’t return to their home, as Israeli refused their right of return claiming it would disrupt the Jewish nature of Israel. The world however decided that unlike any other refugees in the world that were assimilated at their asylum countries, the arabs refugees will be taken care of by a special UN agency – UNRWA (that’s still active) until their temporary situation will be resolved, leaving them in dire state of refugee camps for the past 70 years. Other Arabs, however, that never fled their homes became fully equal citizens of Israel. That is, at least on paper. As underlying racism exists and heavily felt. The Israeli-arabs are roughly 20% of Israel’s population. As they most often don’t get building permits, they simply build their homes illegally, and with a few exception of sub-cultures (such as Bedouin and Druze), Israeli-arabs normally don’t serve the army.
In 1967, Israel went to war against its neighbors as a counter-strike measurement and ended up conquering Gaza and Sinai, the West bank and Jerusalem and the Golan heights (that were luckily mostly empty). The temple mount was recovered, only to find the dome of the rock (a place sacred for the Muslims) at it’s place. Today, religious jews pray the west wall, which was the outer wall of the temple and today is its only remaining. The now occupied Gaza and the West bank, however, were filled with Arabs, many of them in refugee camps, after fleeing their home 19 years earlier.
These Arabs now formed their own identity. They didn’t see themselves as Egyptians or Jordanians any more, rather an new independent nation – the Palestinians.
In 1978, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt and gave it the Sinai peninsula back. But the Egyptians didn’t want the now Gaza Strip and it remained under Israeli occupation. Israel left the the gaza strip in 2005, destroying all settlements there and left it in the hands of the Fatah, only to be usurped by the extremist Hamas.
In 1991, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, mainly to get support from USA (now that USSR had vaporized). a peace treaty was to soon follow, but the Israeli prime minister was assassinated by extreme-right man and his successors failed to proceed with the process.
Although the forced transfer of populations is considered a war-crime, Israel has turned a blind eye toward right-wing (mostly religious) Israelis’ initiative to built (illegal) settlements in the occupied territories and cooperated with them by providing infrastructures to once-built settlement and providing army protection. Israel initially believed that these settlements will help when a peace accord will take place but these grew out of control and turn the tore the Palestinian territory to many small non-sequential pieces.
Today, the Palestinian run their own civilian regime but Israeli military is still present and affects their lives greatly. It is somewhat justified as it still affectively prevent Palestinian terror attacks on Israel.
Act of terrors are very common in the middle east since whenever. Either in militias or army raids, bombs in civilians centers or road-blockage and imprisonments. In 1948, the Arabs tried to annihilate the state of Israel completely, but after 1967 and the realization of their defeat, the majority of them changed their hope to live in peace alongside Israel independently. It’s a problematic aspiration as they can “behave” with their oppressors, but Israel would rather keep its vantage point, or they can retaliate, which will only cause Israel to retaliate in return.
So now we face with 4 options for the future
– Two independent states – which is unfortunately unlikely – due the illegal settlements, the hatred and the mistrust among the people.
– One liberal state, which means the end of the jewish state – unacceptable by most Jews.
– One jewish state, which means apartheid and its worldly consequences on Israel
– Leave things as they are, which is incredibly bad for the Palestinians and just as good for the Israeli, and sadly is being widely supported by anyone who think things will resolve on their own.
The middle east conflict is extremely loaded and it’s literally impossible to be objective about it. It’s worth listening to different sides, and notice how the narrative and how explaining what the other side thinks, can completely portray a different picture. Of course, it’s much easier to fight an enemy who reject your right to exists, and that’s the sides keep telling themselves.
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I was asked to express my opinion in regards to Gatebox. Essentially it’s a “home robot” that controls your home (turn the lights on and off, basically) and annoyingly texts you ever so often “when are you coming home?” and “I miss you”. I say “annoyingly” because the robot doesn’t really *care* for the owner’s well-being. It’s just programed to ask him X times a day. Would the owner miss an opportunity to go to a date with a real person just because his robot told him to “come home quickly!”?
Long time ago, when I watched “A.I.“, I fell for the Teddy robot. I thought that it’s the perfect companion to a young boy. But then a friend asked me “what’s wrong with having a real-life person as a friend?”. That’s a good question. Well, not all kids can have a real-life person as a friend. Some are in remote places or forced in solitude for whatever reason that keeps them away from other people. But to be frank, that’s a very small minority, and with connectivity to the internet and its anonymity, they should be able to easily find online friends.
And what about the AI-boy in the movie? Is he a legitimate substitute for a real life person?
Without dwelling into the robots’ right for independence and freedom from suffering, the robot-boy in the movie came as a substitute for the real son. In our modern world, other solution to fill the void created by the coma-state of the son (he’s not dead!) would be either to have another baby, or to adopt (people are spending fortunes to have their gene replicated instead of helping an already living child in need), or simply get a shrink to solve one’s psychological issues. As a side note, I know it doesn’t go with the movie’s narrative but what about cloning the son?
 
Is a real-life friend better than a artificial one? how about a friend for hire? that sure makes life easy – whenever you need a good-looking friend – hire one. Although I do wonder how does it work exactly. Do people hire a good-looking friend just to spend an evening at home with or is it important to have him impress your peers? It’s true there is a big difference between a Geisha and a prostitute, which is the involvement of sex, but sex isn’t everything (some would argue otherwise) that we’re trying to get in a relationship. it’s only a benchmark. So you’ve finally decided to hire a good looking man for your friend’s wedding. What should you say when your peers will be impressed by him being so witty and thoughtful and caring towards you? should you tell them the truth that he is paid by the hour? that kinda takes the sting out of it, isn’t it? So it comes down that the big problem with any hired friend, real or artificial actually boils down to the question “why can’t you have a real friend?”
Ruby Sparks addressed it quite elegantly as the protagonist wasn’t ready for a relationship as he couldn’t accept Ruby as an independent individual and wasn’t ready to change for her sake. A real friend will not only be there for you whenever your need him. A real friend will also get mad at you whenever you mess things up. Because a real friend care about you. He might be forgiving, she might be patient, but if it doesn’t make you better than you are – it’s a very lousy friend. Man’s nature is to be a social animal, but it only means we need friends; not that we are born with social skills. And Social skill are mostly learned by experience, trial and error but also from observation and a great deal of empathy. A hell load of empathy.
Interventions is another thing that friends do, whether it’s useful or not. It’s probably a wrong technique, trying to go like “we’ll stop you from doing something we think is wrong for you by threatening to break away our friendship” but coming off as “your friendship isn’t important enough for us to accept you as are”. but in it’s core it comes from the right place – friend will intervene because they care. And that’s actually the thing that we really crave – someone that will care. Care for our happiness, and health, well-being and also our future. That’s what’s true friendship is all about. Preferably is mutual. Companion – whether they’re mechanic, or hired, or a simple one-night stand simply don’t do that and would only leave you empty.

To be honest, I’m rather annoyed with Venus Project claiming that “Hey, we’re nothing like anything else you’ve seen before. This is going to work!”

Venus Project, in short, is an utopia of Technocracy (The rule of scientists), abundant resources and fully-automated labour. It is claimed there’s no law enforcement but I’m not sure whether it means there’s no need for such or just that it’s beyond the scope of the specifications.

It’s not different then what we’ve seen before
Venus project is the bad combination of elitism type of communism. It’s elitism to think that scientists or any kind of privileged folks knows what’s best for everyone. They don’t. Time and time again, history has proved that. Let’s take the simple story US’s prohibition era when self-righteous politicians and scientist decided it’s bad to drink alcohol. The average joe decided that he’ll do whatever he wants and thus came the upsurge of illegal booze and the rise of organized crime. That’s exactly what you get when you think that smart people should run the show.
It’s communism to think that the community (or society) will take care of your needs. Sure, in Karl Marx’ time our resources were limited and most labour was done manually. so we distributed the products as equal as we can (ignore the elite that are entitled for more) and we’d expect each person to provide his/her share of the burden. It’s incredibly naive to think we’ll ever reach an abundance of resources with no labour, and if you these two – you’re back with communism.
It’s not going to work
Resources are inertly limited. There’s no other way around it. The simple example would be Human Resource. Let’s say I want a sculptor to create a statute for me, but she’s too busy. HER TIME is a limited resource, no escape from that.
Who is going to choose how the sculptor spends her time? She, or the scientist who decides whether she’s a valuable asset to society? who get to elect the scientist whose responsible for allocating people’s time?
The Venus project claims that laws should be eliminated, but let’s say our scientist rapes someone. Where’s the law enforcement to stop him? And rape is still a crime address limited resource issue (“he wanted her body”, which is a limited resource), but some crimes are derived from other reasons – anger, neglect or even pure malice. We must have laws will help us handle these atrocities else we want individual to take justice into their own hands.
And let’s imagine we got it to work and we live in our happy utopia, but then our neighboring country invents this cool thing we want, but they want money for it, or for us to give them something (and we already agreed that some resource are limited, as human beings and time), should we simply disregard copyright issues and steal it from them? or should we conquer them? or should convince our people (in any means possible) they don’t need that thing that we cannot provide ourselves?
Of course the venus project doesn’t call for an uprising, rather than agreement. As we can see from the never-ending war in Syria, mankind will never get into a full agreement on anything, or just as long as the currently- privileged people has a say in it. But if you’d go without their consent, it’s no longer a wide-spectrum agreement, isn’t it?
Venus project falls to the same shortcomings that every utopia ever faced. It’s sounds nice, sure, and it even elaborated into meaningless designs of happy circular cities (apparently without asking city architects why this is an incredibly bad idea as it limits the cities ability for natural growth).
Yes, we should thrive to minimize our human suffering and labour. Yes, we should aspire to reduce Man’s impact on the environment (and reverse the horrible things we’ve already done).
It should be done as a grass-root movement, little by little, community by community and by showing people that happiness can be attained and not by forcing them into a way of life they don’t approve. To be honest, I don’t think the environment has time for Man to sober but any kind of quick-solution is either delusional or extremely painful.

The news you won’t hear, to let you know you’re being played, is that US is bombing Syrian civilians,

I don’t think that many people know what’s actually going on Syria. I don’t claim to be knowledgable myself, but here’s what I’ve gathered.

The four main ground forces in Syria are the current regime – Assad’s dictatorship, the rebels (some secular, some fundamentalists), the extremist ISIS and the Kurds. But there are also Backers, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia and the US.
In the meantime, Russia has moved in Nuclear weapons and the US is leading  multi-national air strikes on Syrian soil, mainly against ISIS. Years to come, this will be called World War III. Just wait for it.
Thing is, there are no good guys in this war. the innocent Syrians need to choose between a cruel dictatorship or an oppressing fundamentalist rebels.
4 million people (fifth of the population) fled out of Syria and another 8 millions are displaced within. Out of the four million, 1.1 million reach the neighboring Lebanon – a country of 4 million people. Now imagine the economic strain on that country.
It the past few days, there has been numerous reports of massacres in several different Syrian cities (rumored to be fake, actually) that call for international intervention. and that concern me. would sending more army forces into this swap be helpful in any way? There’s are no good guys in this war that we could route for. There is no best-scenario outcome.
If you want your country to help – help the refugees and the displaced. that simple, fair and square. as for that damned blood-spilled land, I believe there should be an international agreement to sanction every import of Weapon, money and experts into the region. Drain it. Let them run out of bullets
In this regard, the UN security council should be thought over as its five countries unrebuked power is a major blocker in the peace process. Once one of these countries sides with one of the fighting factions, the war becomes unstoppable, to the dismay of the innocent victims.
I wonder, as a theoretical game, what would happen if the UN would sanction any war-mongering country, let’s say prohibiting any import/export of military equipment and weapons to and from that country. It would definitely annihilate Israel’s economy. But it would also leave the US in a very weird place as it currently pride itself to be the free world’s police offer and peace-keeper by bombing people in Somalia. And that’s the biggest problem with world’s politics. There are plenty of hypocritical self-righteous SOBs out there that you’ll need to deal with, one way or another.
Well, good luck people of Syria and the people of the rest of the world who are soon to follow.
I recently read a blog post by a climate-denier about the need to recycle and it infuriated me. I write his claims in bold:
I called the recycle cooperation and the environmental ministry and they couldn’t justify why is it important to recycle
Well, I apologize in behalf of and I feel sorry for people who work in places because they need a job and not because they’re all knowledgable eco-freaks. That’s how life works
OK, so they’re uninformed, but why do we recycle plastic then?
Before its recycling campaign started, Israel was a very filthy place. People used to throw their plastic everywhere and you could see wherever you go. So even if it’s not so economic to recycle the plastic, the campaign is about keeping the place we live in clean, which is priceless.
The sea, any sea, is insanely polluted by all plastic being dumped into it. How much waste? enough so you could see it from space. Enough so 90% from all sea-birds have plastic in their stomach. and plastic isn’t healthy.
OK, so what’s wrong with landfilling the plastic instead of recycling it?
Plastics naturally deteriorate and break down to microscopic fragments that are toxic and dangerous. It still find it way to the sea and to our underground water reserves.
Our natural resources aren’t depleting, otherwise how can you explain their dropping price?
Well, it’s a known fact that oil has already peaked, but you wrongfully measure quantity by end-user costs. What has the price soared? because from the hole from which it was extracted to the point to you pay for it, it went through so many intermediaries that you unknowingly subsidise with your tax money, it only seems things are getting cheaper because their true costs move to all sort of externalities. A simple example is the security for oil that was previously privately owned by the oil manufactures, is now the responsibility of the army, which then out-sources it to a private company; that’s a different story. point is – it’s your taxes that absorb the price increase.
We have enough space to have more landfills
The average American household create a enough waste to fill a football field each year. How many American families do we have?
It’s so wrong to say we have “spare” space. We don’t. Every inch of ground Man hasn’t already consumed is actually being used by nature. There’s life dependent on that unsullied piece of earth. And this is even before we begin to talk about your lack of desire to live next to a hell-stench smelly and rodent infested landfill.
We don’t have to cut down the rainforest to get paper. There are plenty of other forests
True, there are more forests. what are you trying to say? you do know that these forests are homes to some endangered species, right?
We can spend our money in ways much more productive than creating expensive recycled paper

True, when you’re the business owner and you don’t need to care about the environment you can spend the money to buy a yacht. ain’t that just great? Sure, why not, let someone else spend the money to clean after you, or cut down another rainforest at some distant corner of the world you never heard of. Sure, it’s much cheaper, but as long as you don’t pay for it, who cares? right?

Recycled paper is more expensive – not because its production is more expensive rather than because it’s a niche where businessmen exploit the eco-friendly people by charging them more money as they’re willing to pay that extra-money to save the environment. So our market became twisted – industry gets subsidies for clearly non-efficient and eco-harmful methods and products because that’s why people are used to be while the eco-friendly products are pushed to the eco-freaks in a high price and push everyone else away from these products.

I can go on about this forever, but that should do enough for now. And all this to say that I’m actually against recycling – I think people should simply stop producing and consuming garbage. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Remove”. Stop buying plastic bottles with liquid sugar in them and switch to glass bottles that are cheaper and simpler to reuse (reuse is better then recycle) and let peace come to the earth.